So to make sure I get the decks cleared to dive once again into draft 11n reviews, I asked Belkin, Buffalo Technology, D-Link, Linksys and Netgear what I thought were two simple questions. The first was: “Are there any draft 11n products in the field that will not be upgradeable to 1.10?”
Belkin and D-Link were the only two vendors who provided clear, simple answers to this question. Both clearly said that all of their current draft 11n products would be upgradeable to 1.10 via firmware updates. Linksys replied with its “official statement” on 11n upgradeability that essentially said “we think so” (my quotes, not Linksys’).
Netgear sent a similar response to Linksys’, referencing its chip vendors who were said to be providing a “strong indication” of firmware upgradeability. Buffalo finally responded after this article first posted and joined Belkin and D-Link with a clear, straight reply that its existing draft 11n products would be upgradeable.
The second question was: “When will updates be available to bring existing draft 11n products up to 1.10 compliance?”
Belkin was the only vendor to provide a simple and clear response, saying “we are targeting a March release for the firmware upgrades”. The “targeting” word, of course, provides some wiggle room, but I have to give Belkin credit for at least trying to pin down a timeframe and going on record.
Netgear was the next clearest, once again pointing to its chipset vendors as the gatekeepers and noting a Q1 timeframe as Netgear’s expectation for receiving 1.10 upgrades from them. D-Link said “updates will depend on when it’s through the processes currently in committee”. I found this puzzling, since 1.10 was put to bed via vote a little over two weeks ago. D-Link added, however, that it was currently focused on getting ‘Works with Centrino’ certification.
Like D-Link, Linksys‘ response pointed to uncertainly in the 1.10 draft as the reason that the company could not provide a timeframe for 1.10 firmware. When I pointed out to Linksys that the 1.10 had been approved on January 19, the response was only: “Until it’s officially official, it’s not official.”
Buffalo’s belated response was similar to Netgear and indicated that the timing of its 1.10 upgrades depends on availability of new drivers and firmware from its chipset vendors. But Buffalo didn’t provide any specific dates.
These responses tell me that most of the companies I surveyed are still in the process of firming up plans to ship draft 1.10 compliant gear. It also tells me that since Buffalo and Apple are starting to ship their dual-band draft 11n routers now, that gear won’t initially be 1.10 complaint.
However, Buffalo did tell me that it will be shipping its Wireless-N Nfiniti Dual Band Gigabit Router & Access Point with channel bonding turned off by default in the 2.4 GHz band. While it won’t be totally disabled like Intel is doing with its Next-Gen Wireless-N network connection cards, it’s at least a step forward until a 1.10 compliance firmware update is available.